The crash and explosion of Blue Origin’s unmanned rocket in September has once again flagged the dangers of space travel. But the two main rivals in the race for commercial spaceflights, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, still need to sell their way to profitability and convince investors all is well.
In a surreal marketing plan Virgin Galactic are talking up design aspects of its suborbital spaceflight experience, as if the aesthetics of space tourism were similar to buying a new toaster.
“Form versus function doesn’t have to be an either-or choice,” Virgin Galactic’s creative director told Fast Company. “In fact, if you look around the world, some of the best examples of modern-day design and technology are when form and function coexist harmoniously.”
So, as we edge towards space flight as a consumer commodity, what will you need to do to get yourself ready to board?
1. Start saving up
Bigging up the design aspects of space experiences versus competitors’ offers is of course necessary to persuade people to part with the huge sums involved. You’ll need to get your hands on just under half a million dollars to reserve your ticket. Virgin claim their design focus will help to reduce costs, but space travel remains beyond most people’s holiday budget, so start saving.
2. Get space body ready
By booking a Virgin Galactic ticket, you sign up for a four-day training regime at the brand new Spaceport America in New Mexico. “Our future astronauts begin a journey that is curated, high-touch and distinctly Virgin, which will culminate at the astronaut campus and training facility,” Blair Rich, Virgin Galactic’s president of commercial and consumer operations, said in a statement. “Customers who buy a ticket today will stay and train here, along with their guests, for five nights. While our future astronauts are completing spaceflight training, their guests will live out a tailored itinerary of discovery and educational experiences on the campus and throughout southern New Mexico.”
If four days don’t sound like enough to get ready to be blasted into space, don’t worry. During take-off and re-entry, the cabin seats are positioned at an optimal angle to disperse the effects of G-forces.
3. Instagram everything
You’ll want to make sure you’ve got your Instagram account ready. The cabins are fitted with 16 photo and video cameras so you don’t have to worry about the settings on your phone camera. Thank goodness Virgin’s space suits, created with Under Amour, are flattering. Form-fitting and not requiring pressurisation, the suits are a deep blue, and you’ll be relieved to know they’ve been designed to complement the interior of the cabin.
4. Arrange your pickup
We’ve all seen pictures of astronaut landing capsules and parachutes and unpredictable landing spots, but worry not. Virgin’s innovative wing ‘feathering’ system means the pilot can not only tuck the wings away to provide unobstructed views of Earth, but can also steer the ship smoothly back to the runway at Spaceport America, so your chauffeur will know exactly where to collect you.